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Monday, April 15, 2024
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Tinubu should remind Sall

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Dear Editor,

Three weeks to the presidential election earlier scheduled to hold in that country on February 25, President Macky Sall announced that the election had been postponed, without immediately giving a new date or any believable reasons. After a wave of protests, he instigated the Senegalese Parliament to announce December 15 as a possible new date.

It’s not just the postponement that is worrying people; it’s Sall’s recent shifty habit – first eying a third-term and then denying it, followed by his government’s crackdown on opposition candidates.

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The problem in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger – three delinquent countries that have accused the community of complicity and negligence in its obligations and signalled an intention to quit – is bad enough.

That threat alone has not only put trade in the community estimated at US$208  billion at risk, minus informal trade amongst citizens which constitutes about 30 percent of the transactions; it also threatens to complicate the security situation in the sub-region that is already facing serious problems from violent extremism and banditry.

A politically unstable Senegal is the last thing that the community needs at this time. Ecowas has come under heavy criticism for what many regard as its hypocritical soft response to what Macky Sall is doing in Senegal. But in Ecowas they have this allegiance of hypocrisy, elegantly called the principle of “non-interference”, forbidding members from telling one another the truth.

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The point, however, is that the resurgence of military rule in a number of African countries today, particularly in Mali and Burkina Faso, is partly traceable to blatant disregard for constitutionalism, the rule of law, and rigged transitions – the sort of bad habit that Sall is showing in his old age.

Sall looked like the most unlikely candidate for this nonsense. In some ways, he reminded me of Senegal’s founding president, Leopold Senghor – urbane, intellectual and sensible. A geologist and widely travelled man, Sall built his way up from the bottom of the political ladder.

This same Sall, who is losing his way and dragging his country along with him, set a high mark when he assumed office. He cut the size of his cabinet as he had promised, ploughed funds into the renewal of infrastructure and even made a proposal to parliament that would have reduced his term from seven to five-year two-term limit!

All of that now appears to have been in the former life of a fairytale. As Sall’s reset two terms of 12 years neared its end, he slowly became the worst possible version of Wade, toying with an extended tenure and hounding the opposition with a number of his strongest opponents, including Ousmane Sonko, who has now been bumped off the trail on contrived charges. Sall, in short, has been seduced by what he hates.

Nigeria President Bola Tinubu who promised to promote a coup-free region when he assumed office as chair of Ecowas last year, cannot afford another country added to the regional coup belt.

Tinubu needs to remind Sall that it was he, Sall, and Nigeria’s former president, Muhammadu Buhari, who led the regional response to flush out Yahya Jammeh in neigbouring The Gambia when Jammeh was on the verge of disrupting the outcome of the elections there because they did not favour him.

By railroading a 10-month postponement of elections through Parliament, Sall is obviously hoping to succeed where Wade and Jammeh failed. And he doesn’t care the cost. But Ecowas should. The community cannot afford to wait until Senegal becomes another basket case before weighing in.

Phoday Bojang

Brufut Heights

Bijilo Extension

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